Vanessa Koh

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Yale U.

Grant number

Gr. 9908

Approve Date

October 24, 2019

Project Title

Koh, Vanessa (Yale U.) "Making Territory: The Creation of Land in Singapore"

Land reclamation is a global phenomenon that has altered the ways in which cities navigate territorial challenges. Coastal cities like Singapore, Mumbai, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, and Dubai have historically tackled their bio-physical limitations by generating land out of water. The stakes in Singapore, however, are higher. Land-scarce Singapore has long agonized over its small size and dearth of resources, especially because the city-state sits between its much larger neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia, with whom it has long maintained tenuous relations. Singapore has long undertaken reclamation in both the city centers and the fringes of the island in order to address its problem of land scarcity. How might we learn from the steady proliferation of reclamation projects in an era of technological innovation and anthropogenic uncertainty? What can these extraordinary schemes reveal about the human anxiety of inhabiting a land-scarce, low-lying coastal city? Based on 16 months of ethnographic research with urban planners, hydraulic engineers, engineering and climate scientists, real estate developers, and environmental activists, this study inquires into how people live amidst technological interventions and how states navigate urban, infrastructural challenges.